Even though these feel fancy and special, they are very quick to make and pop into the oven at a moment’s notice. They are great alongside just about anything: soup, salad, bubbly, or on their own.
Archive for December, 2008
Sometimes, when it’s cold outside and you’re bundled in bed incapable of cooking and yet you need some food that feels and tastes homemade, but your mom is maybe 1,500 hundred miles away, it’s time for the smart shortcuts.
That’s when you call for an order of pai gwat, those savory little tidbits of pork spareribs that dim sum houses and any decent, neighborhood Cantonese restaurant list on their menus. Then you dig around in your vegetable bin for any possible hint of vegetables, preferably a not too wilted head of mustard greens or a bunch of watercress or even, in desperate times, a well-rinsed bag of baby spinach already past its prime.
Let’s face it — Christmas is not about the joy of giving and receiving. It’s not about the much-disputed birth of Christ, or miracles, or even the tarting up of pagan trees while singing Songs of Cheeses.
It’s about whether you get your chocolate on odds or evens this year. It’s about whether your older sister will force you to give her your day’s haul of chocolate. That’s right my friends, this month is ALL about Advent calendar chocolate.
What are you doing this coming Thursday? Nothing? In that case, make reservations for dinner out. In one fell swoop you can help both local restaurants and the hungry in our own community.
A maverick is someone who exhibits great independence in thought and action. True to the name, local Maverick restaurateur Scott Youkilis and wine director Michael Pierce created Dine Out Against Hunger, and organized some of the city’s top venues to donate up to 10% of Thursday December 18th dinner sales to the San Francisco Food Bank, which supplies over 600 food programs throughout the city.
About a month ago, I wrote about Fuyu persimmons, which are one of my favorite fall fruits. This week, I’d like to extol the virtues of the Hachiya persimmon. Hachiyas are the misunderstood fruit of winter: although they are sweet and wonderful when baked into cakes and puddings, many people are afraid to eat them because they are truly awful when immature. A firm Hachiya is extraordinarily astringent and inedible. I admit that taking a bite out of one is sort of like eating an unripe bitter walnut while suddenly having all the moisture sucked out of your cheeks and tongue. But there’s a very simple way to avoid this: don’t eat Hachiyas until they’re ripe.
It’s the Holiday Season, if you haven’t noticed. Sappy music is piped into our ears if we dare venture pretty much anywhere outside. Macy’s is back to putting live kittens in their store windows. People are stressed out at the thought of having to entertain, buy presents, and spend their dwindling piles of money.
And I’m busy– I’ve got lots of parties to go to. Because I’m that popular.
I have decided that this year, in light of my own evaporating bankroll, I shall indulge in the spirit of giving by sharing with my friends and loved ones items I have made with my own little hands. Or not so little– I have more than an octave reach, in piano terms. Not that I play the piano.
This year, I am making Bourbon Balls. No jokes, please. They contain all the vitamins and minerals necessary to get me through the Season: sugar, chocolate, and alcohol. They are relatively easy to make, but look as though I’ve slaved away at them. And they’re good. Chocolaty, not too sweet, slightly salty, and just a little boozy.
My brother planted way too much butternut squash this year. He has so much butternut squash that he doesn’t know what to do with all of it. He has so much butternut squash that he laid down the law that it must play a starring role in our annual over-the-top, overly decadent, planned-for-months-in-advance, Christmas feast.
So, being the loving and caring sister that I am, I’ve been on a quest for lip-smacking, mouth-watering, not-your-run-of-the-mill recipes that contain butternut squash. Beyond the obvious (yet delicious) array of butternut squash soups and pureed or roasted butternut side dishes, I’ve discovered butternut gnocchi, a world of curries containing the squash (particularly Thai red beef curry or green pork curry, and an amazing Indian curry with chickpeas), roasted squash salads both warm and cold, and an array of pasta dishes. One of my favorite pasta discoveries was a lasagna recipe by Jamie Oliver, which in turn, inspired this recipe.
Anyone who knows me well would be surprised to hear me recommending a Christmas book. I am a “bah humbug” type who tries desperately to escape the holiday each year. Not only do I not celebrate Christmas but I despise the crass commercialism, forced sentimentality, and find green and red to be the most distasteful color combination of all. But I am loving Elizabeth David’s Christmas. It would seem David was a bit overwhelmed by the holiday as well, in part because her family had many birthdays right around Christmas. Her preference?
I spent the Thanksgiving in Southern California with family, and on Friday we had a couple of out-of-towners who wanted to see Los Angeles. Mom and I put together a fun trip. It was by no means a comprehensive look at Los Angeles, but it provided the guests with an overview of things that we find interesting and tasty. Last week, I shared with you part of our day including Westwood Cemetery, Milk Restaurant, and Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Today, I bring you the last part of that trip.
My dog Luna eats better than I do. It’s not to say that I don’t eat well, but she eats Superfood.
Once upon a time, not very long ago, she ate high-quality kibble. She hated it. Mealtime was spent coaxing, pleading, and trying any means necessary to get her to eat. It was a battle of wills, a struggle of stubbornness, and she usually won. Winning meant a scoop of cottage cheese or a bit of chicken mixed into her kibble. She’s really not a stupid dog, and knew if she held out, we’d eventually give in. Even so, she’d still poke around and begrudgingly eat it.
I’ve had chowder on the brain ever since I attended a rally a couple of weeks ago at which I mistook the crowd’s chant of “Louder! Louder!” as– thanks to people blowing horns into my ears– “Chowder! Chowder!” I was teased about it by a friend of mine (the proud owner of two hearing aids, no less) who leaned over to me afterward to say, “All this heat and talk of marriage is making me crave a hot, milk-based soup.”
Last week my family and I went to San Diego for Thanksgiving, but instead of focusing on the turkey, I was obsessed with Mexican food. When I’m in San Diego, I crave rolled tacos with guacamole, carne asada burritos, and fish tacos. I grew up in North County San Diego, the land of Baja taco shops. When I was growing up, fast food didn’t mean McDonalds or Jack in the Box. It meant Juanita’s and Roberto’s, two local chains that specialize in Baja street food.
Did you know that olives needed blessing? Me neither! Common throughout California, olives are most extensively cultivated fruit in the world, and about 90% of all olives are pressed for their oil. A Mediterranean fruit, some olive trees bear fruit for hundreds of years.
The eighth annual Sonoma Valley Olive Festival, a celebration of the olive harvest and an agricultural and culinary showcase, takes place December 2008 through February 2009.
I grew up in Southern California. I lived there until I was 25, and inherited most of my food prowess from my mother. She is great at seeking out hole-in-the-wall restaurants with divine food, and we had very few bad meals during my childhood. After moving to San Francisco, my food obsessions became a little more focused, and I often have a list of new places that I’d like to try in Los Angeles. Combine my careful research with mom’s, and we spend most of our time tasting our way through my days in Southern California.